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Alleged N8.5bn fraud: You have case to answer, Lagos court tells NIMASA staff, ex-JTF Commander

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Justice Ayokunle Faji of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Monday, April 22, 2024, told a former Commander of the Joint Military Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield, Major-General Emmanuel Atewe ( rtd.), and a  staff of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Kime Engonzu, that they have a case to answer in the alleged N8.5bn money laundering case brought against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Atewe and Engonzu are standing trial on a 22-count charge bordering on money laundering to the tune of N8, 537,586,798.58, which also involves a former Director-General of NIMASA, Patrick Akpobolokemi, and Josephine Otuaga, also a staff of NIMASA.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Patrick Ziadeke Akpobolokemi, Major General Emmanuel Atewe, Kime Engozu, and Josphine Otuaga, sometime in 2014, in Lagos, within the jurisdiction of this Court, with intent to defraud, conspired amongst yourselves to commit an offence to wit: conversion of the sum of N8,537,586,798.58 property of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012 and punishable under Section 15 (3) of the same Act.”

They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges, thereby prompting the commencement of their trial.

In the course of the trial, the prosecution called several witnesses and subsequently closed its case against the defendants.

However, the defendants, rather than open their defence, filed a no-case-submission.

Akpobolokemi had, in a no-case submission, filed by his lawyer, Dr. Joseph Nwobike, SAN, prayed the court for an acquittal without having him present a defence.

Ruling on the no-case submission on Monday, Justice  Faji discharged and acquitted Akpobolokemi  and Otuaga, the fourth defendant.

He however, ruled that Atewe, the second defendant, and Engonzu, the third defendant, should open their defence in counts 12 to 22 of the charge.

Crime

Police arrest three for allegedly killing driver in Ondo

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The Ondo State Police Command on Thursday arrested three private security guards for allegedly killing a driver, Adewale Olowolafe, in Akure, the state capital.

The suspects were said to have hacked the deceased to death when he was hit with an iron rod during a fight.

According to an eyewitness, who craved anonymity, the suspects allegedly beat the deceased during a fight with an iron rod.

The eyewitness stated that the victim died on the spot, adding that the mastermind of the killing was a female who had also been arrested by the police.

“The deceased is from Ijare. He is a driver and was killed by some private security guards along Ijare Road. The boy was hacked to death by the guards for no justifiable reason.

“The guy was equally hit with hot iron and sticks. The killing was masterminded by a woman.

The deceased was going about his normal daily activities when the attackers pounced on him.

Confirming the incident, the police spokesperson in the state, Funmilayo Odunlami-Omisanya, stated that the case had been transferred to the State Criminal Investigation Department, SCID, for further investigation.

“Three persons have been arrested, and the matter has been transferred to the SCID for further investigation.”

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Businesswoman, children in hiding as kidnappers hold husband captive over unpaid ransom

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The family of Adeniran has gone into hiding, following the continuous abduction of Mojeed Adelaja Adeniran by suspected kidnappers despite releasing his wife, Mutiat Omolabake Adeniran and their children, Maryam Adejoke Adeniran and Mustapha Adetunji Adeniran.

It was gathered that Mutiat, a local businesswoman, was abducted with her entire family on December 27, 2023, during a visit to a community in the Alimosho Local Government Area of Lagos State.

The abduction of the family was part of kidnapping incidents witnessed by residents of Alimosho LG where more than 20 residents were forcefully taken by gunmen.

Recall that two communities in Alimosho LG cried out over the high rate of kidnapping, appealing for the Federal Government’s intervention.

Speaking on the frequency with which kidnap syndicates operate unhindered in Egan, Igando and Ikotun communities, the Chairman, Olorufemi/Akinola Community Development Association, Mustapha Hassan, called for a more proactive approach, adding that security agencies seemed to be helpless.

He said over 20 cases have been reported in his CDA, with some cases reported to the police, while others were not reported for fear of reprisals.

It was learnt that the kidnappers demanded a ransom of N100 million from the Adeniran family before they could release those abducted.

The kidnappers, however, released Mutiat and her children on January 2, 2024, when a part payment of the ransom of about 50 million naira was paid, while still holding her husband due to the remaining part of the ransom.

The family lamented that the kidnappers refused to release Mojeed, and also threatened to kidnap the released wife and children.

It was gathered that Mutiat, along with her children, are now in hiding, fearing for their lives while desperately trying to secure the safe return of her husband.

Speaking exclusively with our correspondent, Mutiat said the fear of further retaliation has forced her to go into hiding with the children, lamenting that they are in emotional and psychological distress.

She noted that the family fears that the kidnappers will make good on their threats to abduct them again if the remaining ransom is not paid.

Even though the family is now in hiding, Mutiat said she fears that their freedom may be short-lived.

She added that the kidnappers have been in contact, threatening to take her and the children again if they don’t pay the balance of the ransom.

Speaking of her experience during her time with the kidnappers, she narrated, “They blindfolded and gagged me before throwing me into the trunk of a car. I didn’t know where they were taking me.”

“I’m still living in fear, but our priority is the safe return of my husband

“We are cooperating with the authorities and doing everything in our power to meet the demands, but we also appeal to the kidnappers to show mercy and release him unharmed.

“I can’t sleep, I can’t eat. I am so worried about my husband, and now I am afraid they’ll come for us again.”

“I just want my family back together,” she said, her eyes brimming with tears. “I want this nightmare to end.”

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Crime

Kano arson: Tinubu orders prosecution of suspects

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President Bola Tinubu has condemned the arson incident at a mosque at Larabar Abasawa in Gezawa local government area of Kano State.

The incident which occurred last week resulted in the death of over 23 worshippers.

President Tinubu in a statement issued by his spokesman, Ajuri Ngelale, on Tuesday in Abuja sent his condolences to the government and people of Kano State over the fire incident.

The President commiserated with the bereaved families, all those affected, and prayed for quick recovery for the wounded.

A spokesman for the Kano State Police Command, Abdullahi Kiyawa, said preliminary forensic analysis showed that the explosion was suspected to be caused by petrol.

The injured, including 20 adult males and four male children, were transported to Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital for treatment.

“The scene was cordoned off, and the victims were rushed to the hospital where they are currently receiving medical care,” Kiyawa added.

The principal suspect, identified as 38-year-old Shafi’u Abubakar, has been arrested.

In his statement to the police, the suspect cited a prolonged family dispute over inheritance as his motive.

“He said his action was purely in hostility following a prolonged family disagreement over sharing of inheritance, and he did that for his voice to be heard,” Kiyawa reported.

“The suspect is currently in police custody, and a detailed investigation is ongoing,” he said.

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